The article examines the aversive emotion of disgust and its deployment in the visual arts and in the premier Russian modernist novel, Andrei Belyi's Petersburg, which has not been considered in regard to its affective poetics before. Based on recent studies of the emotions in cultural history and theory, it explores the philosophical, psychological, and aesthetic aspects of disgust as a response to something viscerally and/or morally repugnant. The emotion, induced by the experience seen or imagined close up, provokes the observer's recoil as defined by cultural norms. As such, disgust is performative in spatial terms. Olga Matich argues that movement away from the loathsome image or idea affords the possibility of making the experience cognitively readable or legible, that disgust creates a space in which the individual negotiates her emotional as well as moral response. Yet she claims that aesthetically—and in certain instances ethically—disgust, which is always about the boundaries of the permissible, is also liberating: it offers society, its artists, and their consumers the opportunity to transgress established norms. Through extensive close readings of Petersburg, Matich shows that Belyi's experimental novel does precisely that, challenging the reader not to avert her readerly gaze from that which is unsettling and to appreciate, even to delight in, his shocking metamorphic image-making. She calls Petersburg a modernist exemplar of baroque aesthetics, characterized by excessive affect and grotesque representation, especially of the corpse, invoking the transience of life and dissolution of form.